Top 5 Englishmen Abroad


The Premier League is one of the most cosmopolitan in the world, with players coming from as far afield as Oman, Barbados and Honduras. And as we get closer to home, perhaps unsurprisingly, the numbers of football emigrants increases wildly. As of last season there were Germans, Dutch and Frenchmen in the Premier League. Major international stars from football’s biggest and most successful nations are willing to ply their trade on these shores, away from their home countries, yet so few Englishmen are willing to take the plunge and move abroad. So let’s raise a toast to those adventurers, those trailblazers who left the comforts of home for the challenge of, er, playing football in a slightly different climate…

 1. Steve McManaman

The willowy Scouser was one of the first English stars to take advantage of the rampant Bosmania that swept Europe following the seminal ruling allowing players to leave clubs for free at the end of their contracts, as he departed Liverpool at the conclusion of the 97/98 season.

Europe’s biggest club snapped up the old-school dribbler and Macca went on to enjoy both footballing glory and oodles of luvverly cash, all in the rather beautiful surrounds of Madrid.

After winning pretty much everything important in a remarkably successful three-year period, including scoring in the 2000 Champions League Final win over Valencia, McManaman returned to England to wander around the pitch, point at things and do a fat lot of nothing at Manchester City. Nice work if you can get it.

Time Abroad:

Real Madrid 1999-2003


La Liga: 2000–01, 2002–03

Supercopa de Espana: 2001, 2003

UEFA Champions League: 2000, 2002

UEFA Super Cup: 2002

Intercontinental Cup: 2002

  1. Kevin Keegan

The man they named ‘Mighty Mouse’ is a studied lesson in how to succeed abroad – pick a moderately successful club, try very, very hard, become a cult hero, lead your team to domestic and (very almost) European success.

Having been a big star at all-conquering Liverpool, the permed poacher surprised many with his departure from Anfield and his arrival in the obscure environs of Hamburg. However, he soon became the town’s favourite Englishman since the Beatles were rocking the Reeperbahn in the early 60s.

A first Bundesliga title for 20 years followed as did a journey to the European Cup final and recognition of the future England manager’s efforts were suitably forthcoming in the form of not one, but two Ballons d’Or – quite the step up from his early days at Scunthorpe.

Time Abroad:

Hamburger SV 1977-1980


Bundesliga: 1978-79

European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d’Or): 1978, 1979

3. Chris Waddle

He may be more recognisable these days for being somewhat portly and for airing his forthright views in an incomprehensible Geordie babble as a co-commentator for ESPN and the Beeb, but the once bemulleted winger was once the scourge of full-backs across Europe. Having starred for Tottenham, Waddle took the plunge and made a lucrative move to Marseille on the south coast of France in 1989.

The wing wizard became a hero in France’s second city, where, playing alongside the likes of Cantona, Deschamps and Tigana, he won three consecutive league titles and reached a European Cup final; indeed, such was his impact, he was voted the 2nd best Marseille player of the entire 20th century (finishing only behind his team-mate, Jean-Pierre Papin).

Following a return to England with Sheffield Wednesday in 1992, Waddle was still exhibiting the élan that was his trademark in Marseille as recently as 2002, when he could be found turning out for the slightly less glamorous Worksop Town.

Time Abroad:

Olympique Marseille 1989 – 1992


Ligue Un: 1989-90, 1990-91, 1991-92

  1. David Beckham

A breakdown in relations with, and a boot to the face from, Alex Ferguson caused David Beckham’s departure from his beloved Manchester United in 2003, when he left to be the next on the conveyor belt of infamous Galacticos at Real Madrid.

Beckham joined a team boasting considerable talents of Zidane, Ronaldo, Raul, Figo and, er, McManaman, but the England captain and his stellar team-mates had to look on as Valencia and Barcelona won La Liga in 2004 and 2005 & 2006 respectively. Luckily for Becks, in his final season at Real, under the strict management of his future England manager, Fabio Capello, he finally won the title he’d been craving, with Real being crowned champions in a spectacularly close title fight, on a better head-to-head record with arch-rivals, Barcelona.

The Leytonstone lad then left the greatest club in the world to join… the MLS. Whilst he claimed a desire to boost the image of the game in its biggest largely untapped market, many felt Beckham was selling out. He had a mixed time in LA, with two impressive loan stints at AC Milan angering Galaxy fans and frustrating those in England who felt he could still do a job in the Premier League.

The last hurrah for Beckham came at the nouveau riche of PSG, where he ended his career on a high with a final league title. It can’t be denied that Beckham has certainly been the highest-profile expat in English football history, and just think, he’s had stints in some of the true theatres of world football, the Bernabeu, the San Siro, the Parc des Princes and, er, the wonderfully evocative Home Depot Center.

Time Abroad:

Real Madrid 2003 – 2007, LA Galaxy 2007 – 2012, AC Milan 2009 & 2010, PSG 2012-13


Real Madrid

La Liga: 2006–07

Supercopa de España: 2003

Los Angeles Galaxy

MLS Western Conference: 2009, 2010, 2011

Paris Saint-Germain

Ligue Un: 2012-13

5. Gary Lineker

Having won the Golden Boot at Mexico ’86, future Match of the Day ‘Mr. Inoffensive’, Gary Lineker was a man in demand, and a, what was at the time, whopping bid of £2.8m took the Englishman from Everton to the sunny climes of Barcelona that summer.

Terry ‘El Tel’ Venables was the man in charge at the Camp Nou, and the crafty Londoner brought in England’s first-choice striker to partner the recently acquired Mark Hughes.While the Welshman struggled in Spain, Lineker took to the bright lights of Barca immediately, picking up the language, immersing himself in the lifestyle and, perhaps more importantly, banging in 21 goals in 41 games, including a hat-trick against Real Madrid. Lineker went on to win the Copa del Rey and the European Cup Winners’ Cup, before returning to England with Spurs.

As his career became increasingly plagued by injuries, Ol’ Big Ears pulled one of the most surprising transfers of all time out of the bag in 1992 by moving to the fantastically named, Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan’s largely unfamiliar J-League. Lineker only managed 23 appearances, but was a huge fan favourite and ended his career in 1994 a particularly adventurous Englishman abroad.

Time Abroad:

Barcelona 1986-1989, Nagoya Grampus Eight 1992-1994



Copa del Rey: 1988

European Cup Winners’ Cup: 1989

PFA Player of the Year 2012-13 – POLL

It’s that time of year again, as we drift towards the season’s climax, and Manchester United’s players start to think of where to go this time to celebrate yet another league title, so those oh-so glitzy award ceremonies start to appear on the horizon.

Last year's winner, RVP. Can he succeed again?

Last year’s winner, RVP. Can he succeed again?

The contenders for the PFA player of the season are out and here, if you hadn’t heard, is the line-up:

Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur

Fantastic season for the Welsh winger – 23 goals in 39 appearences and he’s not even a proper forward! Tottenham’s star man and Europe’s most wanted.


Eden Hazard – Chelsea

A debut season to remember for the extravagantly talented Belgian, who has managed to fit into the English game very quickly. 13 goals and 18 assists prove his worth on this list.


Juan Mata – Chelsea

The Spanish maestro has excelled in his second year at Stamford Bridge. The dynamic midfielder has provided18 goals and an extraordinary 27 assists to Chelsea this year, an invaluable contribution in a turbulent year for the Blues.


Robin van Persie – Manchester United

Machine. RVP has proven his move from Arsenal to United was the right one by helping his new club storm the Premier League; in the process the Dutch master has bagged 28 goals.

Michael Carrick – Manchester United

The quiet Geordie, much-maligned for so long has been the constant at the heart of the United midfield this season, keeping things ticking over and supplying plenty of quality passing. is it his year?


Luis Suarez – Liverpool

The Uruguayan cannot help but grab the headlines, for good or bad, but despite his latest offence his 30 goal return this season in a struggling Liverpool side is undeniably brilliant.


Whilst all of those on this prestigious list have certainly had good seasons (some more carnivorous than others), who deserves to be recognised by his peers as the single outstanding player?

Now, we know it’s up to the players themselves to pick, but what do you, the fans think? Well, now’s your chance to pin your colours to the mast, pin the tail on the donkey and pin Andre the Giant for the 3 count. Vote below on who you think should win.

(N.B. all nominees are fully deserving of their place in this poll, 100%. Definitely. Fact.)

online poll by Opinion Stage

5 Conclusions from Tottenham 3-1 Manchester City

1. Andre Villas-Boas knows how to adapt

If there was one particular problem that wound up Spurs fans during Harry Redknapp’s tenure in charge at White Hart Lane it was his apparent lack of a plan B. If things weren’t going his way, Redknapp’s inconsistent and uninventive substitutions often caused much grumbling amongst the Tottenham faithful. Thankfully for Spurs supporters, Andre Villas-Boas has no such problem in changing the game plan if it isn’t working, as we saw during this game. In the space of 9 minutes, off came useless space-waster Emmanuel Adebayor, hit-and-miss midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and tiring battler Scott Parker and in their stead appeared Jermain Defoe, Lewis Holtby and Tom Huddlestone.

Holtby offered the dynamism missing from the central midfield, Huddlestone the sumptuous passing and Defoe the deadly accuracy and will to shoot so clearly missing from Adebayor’s game. Within 4 minutes of the final of these substitutions (Defoe), Tottenham had equalised at 1-1. Seven minutes later, Spurs had struck with 2 more goals to send a dazed Manchester City to a defeat that looked so highly unlikely in the first half. Kudos, AVB.

To use a meme:

3 goals in 7 minutes

3 goals in 7 minutes

2. Roberto Mancini has an interesting approach to substitutions

Having seen his side surrender their deserved 1-0 lead, a lead they’d gained during a fairly comfortable and impressive first half performance, Roberto Mancini still had 2 substitutions available to him. The minute after Bale scored to make it 3-1, the Italian decided to replace Edin Dzeko with Scott Sinclair. That’s Scott Sinclair with 14 appearances and 0 goals for City this season; as opposed to the equally available, Sergio Aguero… 34 appearances, 15 goals.

Not only that, but in the last couple of minutes, Gael Clichy the pacy full-back came off for… lumbering centre-back, Joleon Lescott, who inexplicably was sent up front in a desperate attempt to grab a goal.

If Manchester United do win the league against Aston Villa, surely Roberto Mancini would have preferred to go out fighting than go out with self-defeating, mind-boggling, bizarre substitutions in a game they should and could have won.

3. Jermain Defoe should be Tottenham’s first-choice striker… always

Jermain Defoe may not be as consistent as the very top goalscorers in the Premier League but as finisher he is the equal of any of them. His venomous  instinctive strike past Joe Hart against Manchester City summed up exactly what has been missing from Spurs’ team. It is lucky for Tottenham that Gareth Bale has stepped into the breach and performed so excellently in 2013; with both men in the team, have Spurs now got the firepower to carry through their challenge for 4th?

4. Emmanuel Adebayor has had one of the worst seasons in the history of time

28 appearances, 6 goals in all competitions, 20 appearances, 3 goals in the Premier League. Emmanuel Adebayor’s record doesn’t do his performances justice… he’s been worse than they suggest. Tired, slow, poor reactions, bad touch, Defoe’s return surely spells the end of Adebayor’s unimpressive stint up front for Spurs.

5. The battle for 4th will go down to the wire, the ‘battle’ for 1st won’t

That’s it then. Unless something extraordinary happens, Manchester United will win the Premier League tomorrow night at home to Aston Villa. Whilst Paul Lambert’s team have finally started to show themselves to be better than 11 strangers straight out of school, it’s hard to see past a United victory. And there will end Manchester City’s title defence, as disappointingly surrendered as it was insanely won last season.

As for a place in the top 4, it is deliciously balanced following Tottenham’s impressive victory and Liverpool’s controversial late equaliser at home to Rafa’s Chelsea. The table now has Arsenal in 3rd, 63 points, 34 games played, Chelsea 4th, 62 points, 33 games played and Spurs 5th, 61 points, 33 games played.

Arsenal still have Manchester United to play, although Ferguson’s men will probably already have the title in the bag by then, so next Sunday might prove a good time (if there is such a thing) to play the reds. Spurs, meanwhile have 4 of the bottom 8 to play before the end of the season and Chelsea have still to face Manchester United and Everton. The big game, however looks likely to be the showdown at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea take on Tottenham on Wednesday the 8th of May.